Carmelo Anthony’s improved defense makes him viable candidate for MVP

Anthony says he committed himself to becoming a better defender this year.

With the N.B.A.’s best record, the New York Knicks have started this season by winning eight of their last nine games. Many, including long-time Knicks fan Spike Lee, credit the teams success with Anthony’s improved game play, especially on the defensive end.

“Carmelo is just playing a complete game,” Lee said. “Now for whatever reason that is, I don’t want to get into it. I don’t know. But there is a distinct difference in what he is doing now and when he first put on a Knicks uniform.”

While Anthony has always been known for his ability to score-at-will, his defense has often been criticized as being one of the only things lacking from his game.  His former Denver Nuggets coaches have often wondered why Anthony has never shown the same tenacity on the defensive end, as he does on the offensive end.

Anthony dunks two of his game-high 30 points in a 84-104 win against the Miami Heat on Nov. 2

Anthony says he committed himself to becoming a better defender this year.

“I know I can do [play defense],” Anthony said. “It’s not a matter of me not being able to do it. It was me just saying, ‘OK, I’m going to do it now.’

Lee thinks Anthony’s improved defense is the result of him playing with former MVP’s Kobe Bryant and LeBron James at last summer’s London Olympics.  Teammate J.R. Smith, who also played alongside Anthony in Denver, says Anthony’s improved play is the result of him getting tired of not being able to make it past the first round of the playoffs.

Knicks center Tyson Chandler says he is so impressed with Anthony’s improved play that he considers him the league’s leading candidate for MVP.

“He should be at the top of the race right now,” Chandler said. “We’re playing the best basketball, and he’s playing all over the floor on both ends.”